Myanmar rebels seize town from military junta despite China-backed ceasefire
Clashes have raged across Myanmar’s northern Shan state since the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) launched a joint offensive late October, AFP reports.
The three allied groups – known as the Three Brotherhood Alliance – say they have captured military positions and border hubs vital for trade with China, posing what analysts say is the biggest military challenge to the junta since it seized power in 2021.
On Thursday, Beijing announced a temporary ceasefire between the alliance and the Myanmar military. There have been peaceful spells in MNDAA-held areas, but clashes have continued in areas controlled by the TNLA and the AA.
The TNLA said they captured Namhsan on Friday after launching an attack in the area more than two weeks ago.
“We got the town,” Brigadier-General Tar Bhone Kyaw told AFP. The TNLA posted video footage on Facebook showing leaders of the group visiting the town and talking to junta soldiers taken prisoner.
Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun, a spokesperson for Myanmar’s army, also told state-run TV channel MRTV on Friday that fighting was continuing around Namhsan.
According to TNLA’s Tar Bhone Kyaw, the Myanmar army also lost the 105-Mile Trade Zone, a major trading conduit on the border with China in Muse township, Shan state.
In total, the three-group alliance says they have seized 422 bases and seven towns from Myanmar’s army since October 27.
The alliance’s offensive has galvanised other opponents of the junta and clashes have spread to the east and the west of Myanmar. More than half a million people have been forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.